Sunday, January 10, 2010

It Can't Happen Here

"It Can't Happen Here" is a semi-satirical political novel by Sinclair Lewis published in 1935. It features newspaperman Doremus Jessup struggling against the fascist regime of President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. In 1936, Lewis and John C. Moffitt wrote a stage version which is still produced. The stage version premiered on October 27, 1936 in several U.S. cities simultaneously, in productions sponsored by the Federal Theater Project. - Wikipedia
Complete text at Project Gutenberg

The play opened in 18 different cities, including a Cleveland production at the Carter Theater on East 9th Street, directed by Theodore Veihman. This production brought the story from Vermont to central Ohio, and included references to Akron and Cleveland. The three-week run featured the Federal Music Project Marching Band on its sold-out opening night, and critic William McDermott (no fan of the FTP) wrote in the Plain Dealer that the show "sometimes moves slowly, but it moves." - Showtime in Cleveland
"We Want to do 'It Can't Happen Here' because it is a play by one of our most distinguished American writers. We want to do it because it is a play about American life today, based on a passionate belief in American democracy. The play says that when dictatorship comes to threaten such a democracy, it comes in a harmless guise, with parades and promises; but that when such dictatorship arrives, the promises are not kept and the parade grounds become encampments. We want to do 'It Can't Happen Here' because, like Doremus Jessup and his creator, Sinclair Lewis, we, as American citizens and as workers in a theatre sponsored by the giovernment of the United States, should like to do what we can to keep alive the 'free, enquiring, critical spirit' which is the center and core of a democracy." - Hallie Flanagan from Free, adult, uncensored: The living history of the Federal Theatre Project
Would you know a dictatorship coming if you saw one? I mean ... really?

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